Each week I am humbled and blessed to work in concert with our Lazarus counselors and Lazarus guests to thoughtfully share our resources. Our resources become the lifeline that keep people housed, keep water running, lights and heat on, ensure vital medicines are purchased and medical bills are covered. Each week we look to each other to make good decisions based on the circumstances and the money we have available that day and we offer our own brand of hospitality and caring.

We are often amazed at the end of the day when we are able to help each person who has come to us; often it is a combination of Christ Church resources and our counselors securing help from additional resources in our community. For example, Christ Church has an agreement with Dominion Power which allows us to submit a pledge the day we meet with people and before the check is even in the mail. This pledge is put towards their bill immediately. Yet we also have times when we have more people than we can help and we have to turn them away. While we always provide them detailed information with other places to go for help, I have to hope and trust they will find their way. We can’t do it alone.

I received this email last week from Nora Lopez, a counselor from Alexandria Redevelopment and Housing Authority who works with us at Lazarus. It illustrates the type of partnerships that are needed to change lives:

Today I attended a DC Central Kitchen Culinary Job Training Class graduation ceremony. The ceremony was held at the U.S. Navy Memorial & Heritage Center. There were 19 graduates at this session, only one from Virginia, Ms. ‘Smith.’ I first met Ms. ‘Smith’ while doing outreach work at Christ Church’s Lazarus ministry. I added her to my email list and began sending her resources, one of which was about DC Central Kitchen’s Job Training Program. I was also able to get her help with transportation to and from for her first program interview and orientation, again, with the help of Christ Church. The sessions are 14 weeks long and include classes in effective conflict resolution, job readiness & effective communication skills. THANK YOU CHRIST CHURCH! :)  She has a job interview with a major university hospital  this coming Monday as a result of her newly acquired skills through the DC Central Kitchen’s Culinary Job Training Program.

While I am joyous to receive good news about one of our Lazarus guests, I am also constantly reminded of those who don’t get help. I have been carrying around the article from last week’s Washington Post where 8 people lost their lives from carbon monoxide poisoning on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Their power had been turned off and a deadly mistake was made in an effort to keep the power on. A painful awareness of what people do in desperate situations comes over me each time I look at their photographs. Might they be the ones we turn away? We can never really know how broad an impact our spiritual and material support to those most vulnerable in our community will have on their lives. But with material and spiritual support, lives can be forever altered.